Dropping two of three games on the road leading into a lengthy holiday break leaves Northwest College men’s basketball coach Brian Erickson wondering when his Trappers will jell.
Northwest fell to Williston State 89-75 and Dawson Community College 91-73 before defeating Stone Child College 102-69 to leave its record at 9-7.
The road trip mirrored the rest of the first half of the season, with the Trappers resembling a smooth operating machine one day and on others a herky-jerky operation.
“It was rough,” Erickson said. “We had great practices. I thought we really fixed a lot of our offensive and defensive problems.”
Then the same signs of an immature team – failing to help on defense and taking shots too quickly on offense – flared up again.
“I thought they played hard,” Erickson said. “I thought they brought it every game. We didn’t play smart enough. We didn’t play together.”
This is a very young team, with almost all freshmen and only two players back who saw much action. One is sophomore guard Blake Hinze of Cody.
“We’re pretty close,” Hinze said of coming together. “Sometimes we have selfish moments. We haven’t got the team chemistry we should have.”
Improvement in final results, especially in close games, will come when Trappers “trust each other more,” Hinze said. “We need to assume the guy will be there at the right time.”
Better shooting aided Williston, which hit 51.9 percent from the field to Northwest’s 41.9. The Trappers were down 42-37 at halftime and Williston pulled away.
Laukan Taufa led Northwest with 15 points. Calvin Fugett Jr. and Hinze each scored 10.
Umar Jalloh’s 18 points were tops against Dawson. Luc Lombardy, Fugett and Hinze each contributed nine.
“It’s a process,” Erickson said of meshing a new roster. “They’re a really close group. They’re fun to coach. We’re maybe two steps slow on defense. We just weren’t rotating.”
Stone Child of Box Elder, Mont., was victimized in the second half by Trapper hot shooting. Northwest out-scored Stone Child 63-29 over the last 20 minutes.
Taufkan and Lombardy fired in 16 points apiece, and Jace Johnson and Hinze hit for 11 points each while the team made 10 3-pointers.
The Trappers do not play again until Jan. 10 at home versus Western Wyoming. Erickson thinks the time off will rejuvenate the team.
“Everyone is kind of fatigued,” Hinze said, and he is also optimistic the layoff will recharge the squad.
“I think so,” he said. “I hope so.”